The Strategy and Success of Cirque du Soleil

The Strategy and Success of Cirque du Soleil

The Canadian entertainment and traveling circus company Cirque du Soleil is one of the prime examples of an organization demonstrating the effectiveness of a strategy based on unlocking new market demand and making competition irrelevant.

When the circus company was founded by former circus performer Guy Laliberté in 1984, it entered an industry characterized by a dwindling market. The audience for circus was diminishing due to the proliferation of urban live entertainment, sporting events, as well as home entertainment.

It is also important to note that entering the circus industry was a risky business endeavor because it was already dominated by industry leaders such as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. However, less than 20 years since it was founded, it generated a level of revenues that took industry leaders more than a hundred years to achieve.

The Business and Marketing Strategy of Cirque du Soleil

The circus company now holds shows in more than 90 cities around the globe. It has become a modern and not to mention, global traveling circus that has been enjoyed by about 40 million people around the globe. The company owes this accomplishment to its specific marketing strategy.

Nevertheless, the success of Cirque du Soleil lies in its ability to tap a new audience for live circus performance. Instead of merely catering to children and families, the company marketed its shows to adults, business people, and corporate clients.

The success story of Cirque du Soleil mirrors the fact that to win in the future, a business organization must stop competing. Laliberté and his crew demonstrated that moving away from competition entails exploring new markets

Relationship to the Blue Ocean Strategy of W. Chan Kim

In the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” first published in 2015, business theorist and professors of strategic management W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne mentioned Cirque du Soleil as a prime example of a company that has applied a concept he called Blue Ocean Strategy.

The strategy is actually a marketing theory asserting that for a business to win in the future, it must stop competing. Kim and Mauborgne explained that Laliberté and his crew demonstrated that moving away from competition entails exploring new markets.

A Blue Ocean Strategy essentially involves creating a new market space, thus moving away from the “red ocean” characterized by an established market with defined industry boundaries and competition rules. The “blue ocean” is a realm representing non-existent industries and markets.


  • Kim, Chan W. and Renée Mauborgne. 2005. Blue Ocean Strategy. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Pineda, Mathew Emmanuel. 2019. “Blue Ocean Strategy: Definition and Principles.” Profolus. Available online
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